First place and third place in the ACC are set to tip off for their only match-up of the season in a heated conference battle.
Miami (FL) is the highest AP ranked team in the conference after finally surpassing the Duke Blue Devils this week, while a win by Virginia tonight would go a long way in placing the Cavaliers in the top 25.
Both teams have five games remaining on their schedule, with the Hurricanes having the much more favorable schedule. Miami (FL) will face off against Duke on Mar. 2 in what will be a highly anticipated rematch after the spanking the Hurricanes gave the Blue Devils earlier in the season. However, besides the Duke match-up the four teams Miami (FL) will face have a combined 15-36 conference record. Meaning tonight’s showdown with Virginia makes it one of the last significant games the Hurricanes have before tournament time rolls around.
Virginia on the other hand has a much more difficult schedule by comparison. Two games after traveling to Miami (FL) the Cavaliers will host Duke on Feb. 28 in what could be a battle for second place in the conference. Virginia also closes out its league action against a pair of teams that will be scrambling to try and get off the bubble for a tournament bid. The Cavaliers will travel to take on a desperate Florida State Seminoles squad on Mar. 7 and the close out the season by hosting the Maryland Terrapins on Mar. 10.
With a much more difficult schedule compared to the cakewalk Miami (FL) will have, tonight’s game means significantly more to the Cavaliers. A Hurricanes loss would hurt their ranking but would be far from devastating given they’ll likely closeout the regular season winning more than they lose.
Meanwhile, Virginia enters the contest as the underdog so a loss would also be hardly devastating with the juggernaut Miami (FL) is looking like. However, a victory would be massive for the Cavaliers’ tournament resume and would also provide protection if Virginia stumbles at some point in their remaining games.
The Cavaliers have everything to gain while the Hurricanes have little to lose.